Trojans outrun Spartans in 41-34 loss

Spartan running back Angelo Ritualo legged out a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Friday against Fife, but Bainbridge fell 41-34 to the Trojans. - RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo
Spartan running back Angelo Ritualo legged out a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Friday against Fife, but Bainbridge fell 41-34 to the Trojans.
— image credit: RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo

In a game of big plays and quick strikes, the Bainbridge varsity football team came up short Friday evening.

The Spartans were helpless against a whirlwind Trojan march as the first half wound down Friday, surrendering the momentum, the lead and eventually the game to visiting Fife, 41-34.

“We just had some breakdowns during that drive,” coach Andy Grimm said, crediting the visitors with sound execution and clock management in the fateful minute.

The loss dropped the Spartans to 1-3 in non-league play, heading into this Friday’s Homecoming contest and league opener against Eastside Catholic. But Grimm said the tough early schedule will help the Spartans down the road.

“There’ll be games in our league schedule where our kids will say, ‘this is a piece of cake (compared to non-league play),” Grimm said. “There’ll be other times where they step up to the line and say, ‘I’ve seen this before.’”

Despite the outcome, the Spartan faithful were treated to an exciting contest and formidable offensive displays by both clubs.

With Grant Leslie at the helm from first snap to last – Joe Picha was sidelined by banged-up finger – the passing game came alive.

The junior quarterback winged out 334 yards on a 16-of-28 effort and connected on three scoring strikes, two to Scott Rasmussen and one to Mike Ersser.

The air attack offset a negligible running game, with Bainbridge still hobbled by injuries to several key players. Angelo Ritualo and Zach Kornfeld were the top ground gainers with 17 yards each.

But it was the running game on the far side of the ball – principally, Trojan junior running back Paul Brewer – that determined the outcome. The Spartans spent large stretches of the game looking at Brewer’s heels; he ran for 180 yards and four touchdowns, kicking his own extra points for good measure.

For the contest, Fife amassed 335 team yards on the ground. Also key for the Trojans was tight end Shane Bussey, who sustained several drives with big gains.

The Trojans opened the scoring on a five-yard Brewer rumble 11 minutes into the contest. But the lead lasted no longer than the ensuing kickoff, as Ritualo fired up the crowd with a 95-yard return down the right sideline to knot the game at 7-7.

After a Fife punt, a Bainbridge fumble put the Trojans in business at the Spartan 44; Brewer found paydirt five plays later on a third-down play from the six. The two-point try was intercepted by Mike North.

Following Ritualo’s kick return to midfield, the Spartans picked up 32 yards on a bootleg to Kornfeld, and moved to the five yard line on a Ritualo sweep.

Leslie rolled left and hit a wide open Rasmussen two plays later; the kick failed, leaving a 13-13 deadlock.

The Spartans abetted their own defensive troubles on the next drive, when they held Fife to a tough fourth-and-one but were called for offside. The Trojans rolled on to their third score and a 20-13 lead.

Tide turns, again

The Spartans seemed to swing momentum in their favor when Leslie found a leaping Ersser in the left corner of the end zone with 59 seconds left in the half. A two-point pass to Kornfeld gave the home boys a 21-20 advantage they looked certain to carry into the locker room.

But the elation was short-lived. After an out-of-bounds kickoff gave Fife the ball on their own 35 yard line, the visitors needed just four plays and 51 seconds to barrel down the field for another Brewer touchdown, and a 27-21 lead that they would not surrender.

The teams traded possessions for most of the third quarter, until Brewer’s fourth score opened up a 34-21 Fife advantage.

Keyed by a 41-yard pass-and-run to Andrew Shelton, the Spartans narrowed the gap early in the final quarter. Sophomore Chris North, pressed into service in the backfield, powered the final four yards on two carries for the touchdown. The PAT by Ritualo put the count at 34-28 with 10:07 to play.

But another out-of-bounds kick gave Fife good field position, and four plays later the score was 41-28.

Leslie hit Rasmussen for an 56-yard scoring strike on the game’s final play.

The passing game was a bounty for Spartan receivers, as Leslie connected with eight different targets on the evening. Ersser had 106 yards on five receptions, followed by Zach Ainsley (two for 55), Andrew Shelton (three for 51) and Matt Draper (one for 45).

On defense, linebacker Ainsley was in on 21 tackles, while Kornfeld and Matt Draper were in on 13 each.

***Bainbridge JVs 20, Fife 6 – The Spartans avenged Friday’s varsity loss with a road drubbing of the Trojans Monday afternoon. Quarterback C.J. Hall hit Austin Brawner for a first-quarter score. Chris North and Zach Smith added second-half touchdown runs.

The team faces Eastside Catholic on the road Monday at 4:30 p.m.

***Bainbridge Frosh 32, O’Dea 20 – After setting the tone with a long return of the opening kickoff, Max Kauffman led the Spartans with two touchdowns in a road win over the Irish last Thursday.

The Spartans finished the opening drive in style with a sneak by quarterback Quinton Agosta, who finished the game eight-of-nine for 57 yards through the air.

Kauffman tallied 73 yards on seven receptions, and added 57 rushing yards on 11 carries. Nick Stone ran for 104 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown, while Bryan Gilbreath had 55 yards and a score on 12 attempts.

The Spartan defense clamped down in the second half, holding the Irish scoreless. Gilbreath led the effort with six tackles and an assist, while Alex Carter had four tackles and broke up a pass. Stone forced a fumble.

The team hosts West Seattle at noon this Saturday.

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